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MIT student blogger Snively '11

It’s not all happy by Snively '11

I know, shocker!

I’ve realized that at this point I’ve pretty much conveyed this type of image concerning my life at MIT:

While true some of the time, I’d say that just as much of my time is spent feeling like this:

^^This becomes more entertaining when you right-click it and select properties^^

I really want you guys to like MIT and appreciate all the things it can do for you. Hot dog contests, Toy Fair, snowball fights, the Ig Nobels, and all sorts of stuff happens, yes. These things are all awesome, but they don’t happen every day and they don’t happen all day. You know when they happen?

Between PSETs. The part about me that I haven’t actually blogged about is the part where I will sit in a library for 8 hours trying to do a ONE PSET. I don’t blog about how overbearing things can feel (a test and two PSETs due on Wednesday) or about how long days can be (9 AM to 10 PM on Thursdays). I don’t blog about the specific grades I get or worrying about failing classes (did you have any idea that I spent most of last semester frantically trying to not fail physics? I had the third lowest grade in the easiest physics class offered). Getting sick, dragging myself to class at 9 AM every morning, struggling to stay awake during lecture after having only slept 3 hours, and still having to stay up until 3 AM to finish ANOTHER PSET.

It’s hard and it’s not always glamorous. Oftentimes you will see me and other MIT students in various states of disheveled, unshaven, dirty, wild-eyed stupor. It’s just an accepted part of life here, that while many cool things happen, many uncool things also happen. Which brings me to MIT’s other other motto:

Work Hard Play Hard.

I’ve been focusing on the play, but the work is certainly there. For those of you who are convinced that I lead the perfect life, am related to Chuck Norris, or am some sort of walking good-luck charm, believe me when I say that it’s all balanced by a fair amount of mental strangulation and rigorous attempts at not getting buried under mountains of work. Sometimes I fail, but you just have to keep going and try to make up for it by working harder. Sounds simple on paper but in real life it is enough to actually make you want to cry (literally, people here cry).

I’ll still probably focus on blogging the fun elements of MIT, but know that while I’m not blogging or having fun I’m working my butt off and am probably in various states of misery. That being said, hopefully you aren’t signing up for MIT because you expect to have a blast the entire time. You will have fun, but only after you earn it.

Work hard play hard.

40 responses to “It’s not all happy”

  1. Ana says:

    I wouldn’t mind 20 hours of hard work for every hour of fun at MIT. Besides, how could students appreciate your first picture when they don’t know what the second one means?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Just wanted to know what exactly are RA’S

  3. Snively says:

    RAs generally refer to students that get accepted during Regular Action. Here’s an example sentence for context:

    “EAs get their decisions in December while RAs get their decisions in March.”

  4. Anonymous says:

    Thanks a lot Snively

  5. Anonymous says:

    i got a score of 1530 in maths level 1 and physics and my percenrile is 95 and 87 respectively just wanted to know if they would benefit my application

  6. Snively says:

    Matt answered this a while ago by saying (and I’ve updated the numbers)

    We do not make decisions based on test scores. There is no formula for admission, and there are no minimum test scores. Test scores are one of many parts of the application that inform our decision. Admissions decisions at MIT are made following a holistic, subjective review of each applicant.

    That being said, I know that folks are still (understandably) very concerned about test scores. To give you a sense of things, here are the middle 50% score ranges of students admitted to the Class of 2011:

    SAT Critical Reading [670, 770]
    SAT Math [720, 800]
    SAT Writing [670, 760]
    ACT Composite [31, 34]
    SAT Subject Test – Math [730, 800]
    SAT Subject Test – Science [700, 800]

  7. Shruthi says:

    This must be one of the most frequently asked questions though….

  8. Kamya says:

    haha if I did that to my computer my dad would kill me….but i DO do it to the piano when i get angry at the world….poor piano *sniff*
    thanks for the reality check, snively.
    what exactly are PSET’s?? i get the impression that they’re not much fun…

  9. Michael '11 says:

    Whoa, switchin’ it up and putting Michael ’11 instead of Snively (it’ll never happen again, I promise)!


    A PSET is a Problem Set, MIT’s equivalent of homework. They’re normally due once a week. The one I’m currently working on is this one:

  10. Nihar says:

    Haha!..for a moment there I was like, who’s Michael’11?? :D ….Your last name has caught on with such popularity that I wouldn’t be shocked to overhear this at MIT:

    MIT Guy A : Hey did you read Snively’s entry about the Toy Fair??
    MIT Guy B : Yeah! Cool trip huh? PLUS He got to meet Bill Nye! …lucky him!
    MIT Guy A : I wonder what Michael and Bill Nye would’ve talked about…
    MIT Guy B : Michael? Did he get to meet Bill Nye too??

    Hahaha ^^ …but I probably exaggerated it a bit.

    But trust me Michael, we sure know what we’re getting into by loving MIT. Its IHTFP all over again, sometimez we may**seriously doubt it right now** hate the place, and the rest of the time, we will find paradise at MIT… smile

  11. Hawkins says:

    I can’t wait to HTFP. =)

  12. asm says:

    Heh, I remember that image from your other blog.

    8 hours for one pset? Man, now I really AM scared! But seriously, this is MIT, and it’s hard. I just didn’t have much of a clear idea as to how hard it really was, and I still don’t, but this is a valuable insight…

    Thanks Snively for giving us all a reality check. Reading these blogs sometimes gives me the fake notion that it’s all fun and games at MIT. Heh, that AND psets…

    (REALLY, people, getting first post is really not that big of a deal…)

  13. Anonymous says:

    Snively you’re still a stud. Keep playing hard!

  14. PS says:

    I’ve just discovered why Admissions fine professionals had us writing answers to all those questions about resilience… ehm… kidding

    However, even when everyone seems to cry at least once a week, people (including me =P) still want to be part of ‘Tute; and even they graduate!. So, just keep it up! =D.

    Although seems easy to just write it…

  15. Shruthi says:

    Work hard, play hard… I am sure it will be one hell of a rollercoaster ride, for anyone and everyone! smile But I am sure it will be one worth the effort and of course, the mental strangulation as you put it! :D

    Cheers to Snively, and to all others at MIT :D You guys rock!!!!

  16. Libin Daniel says:

    All fun would not have made MIT what it is today and we are ready to be owls( the ring has owl for this reason?).

  17. Joe says:

    would concept question 1 be zero because the triangle makes a faraday cage?

  18. Anonymous says:

    What does PSET stand for?

  19. anpn says:

    I realize that first semester is P/F/NR, but what about the INTERNAL record? How will a poor grade affect a student internally, given that the grades are available to advisors, etc.? Will a weak performance first semester hurt a student? And, after first semester, what will getting some C grades on one’s transcript do to post-graduation options? I’m just concerned that grading-on-the-curve might be ruinous to academic hopes, given the level of competition at MIT.

  20. Aditi says:

    I think I was the one who said that your life is perfect. But I do know what you mean.
    Strangely enough 12th has been like that for me (well ok not 1/0 th times as hard as a semester at MIT but still… =))
    People tell ME that my life is pretty great but then again nobody sees the hours and days of hard work (which is mostly fine but still oh so neverending)

    So I get where you’re coming from and I think its incredible that , all you bloggers , with ginormous course loads and tons of bazillion other things to do , still manage to blog this often for us applicants. You guys are amazing!

    and thank you!

  21. OmarA says:

    What??? NOOOOO…I’m withdrawing my app…haha jk. I loooove working. I actually do better work when stressed. Plus, I can only really enjoy myself after I feel like I have done hard work. I’m totally ready.

    Btw…i type w/ gloves on so that would not happen to me.

  22. Karen says:

    Almost failing physics? Really?

    I got a 67% on my physics test on centripetal motion that we got back today. My lab partner and I looked at each other, shrugged, high-fived, and yelled ‘second-semester seniors!’

    Does pass/no record feel the same way? smile

  23. Laser says:

    Funny you mentioned a 9-10 o’ clock day today, since mine just went 6-10. It sucked, but I’d give my life to stay asleep those extra 3 hours.

    MIT kids have fun? Preposterous!

  24. Collin says:

    Question for anyone to clarify:

    ONE PSET = more than ONE problem correct?

    because 4 hours on one problem, twice, is a lot more sensible.


  25. Snively says:

    Look for a blog about PSETS soonish

  26. Shruthi says:

    @Collin: Yeah I think it will have more than one question….. 5 or 6 probably from what I deduced

  27. Soaham says:

    Anyone from India, appearing for IIT-JEE This year ?
    Because I looked at the Problem set, and its not a lot more difficult than the things IIT-JEE throws at us… And considering that the people who give the JEE are 12th class students, Is there something missing ?? Or maybe the easiest possible set has been posted to lure us in :-D

  28. Aditi says:

    that PSET is just like the stuff we get for ISC except its a bit harder. I think I’ll do it =)
    I have a physics final next week anyway!

    wish me luck someone!

  29. minhphan '11 says:

    @ Joe

    No, it will be Q/(8 epsilon_not) because of symmetry.

  30. Davorama says:

    darn it. I bet Chuck Norris was disappointed.

  31. Libin Daniel says:

    IIT? Me..and the P-Sets might be easy or tough depending on the concepts..Because it’s conceptual if we have C3( Crysyal clear its a breeze ..else it’s tough…And I go with minhphan’11 =1/4* Q/(2 epsilon_not)should be the answer.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Wow, it’s refreshing to know that even MIT students have to work hard to succeed academically. But it’s also really nerve-racking to know that the coursework is so rigorous and challenging that MIT students have to work hard to succeed academically. But, like you said, work hard to earn the play hard.

  33. Libin Daniel says:

    So is the date of results officially declared as 22nd March?

  34. Snively says:


    No, absolutely not.

  35. Melissa says:

    Thanks for making this post. As a freshman at MIT this year, I was a little shocked when I saw the workload – especially after reading blogs that presented MIT as a really cool, fun place. Don’t get me wrong, it is cool and fun, but I would have prefered to know a little more about what I was getting myself into work-wise. Hopefully, prefrosh will read this blog and take note!

  36. Kranz says:

    Umm, nice post. Was just wondering , if how Internationals cope up with the pressure and the differences in education patters etc.?
    Or if they are better ?
    I bet at MIT each one of you is a Think Tank , but like , speaking rather generally who are the real ‘Thinkers’,’Geniuses’… ??
    And one last one (sorry) are undergraduates allowed to work on ideas they have, devices or any such thing in the freshman year,if Labs are open to all, and if any significant invention or research by an undergrad!?

  37. soaham says:

    Solved… though its no use to anyone now that the submission date is past… Still, for my own satisfaction, the 1st answer is Q/(8*epsilon_zero) on account of symmetry, 2nd is 0 as net flux through an infinite spherical surface turns out to be 0… Mail me if more answers are needed…

  38. E. Rosser says:

    Sounds intense. Wait, no, that’s way to glib. Let’s try again…
    WHAT!?!? Are you all CRAZY!?!!? Are we all crazy!?!?! IS THE WORLD CRAZY!?!?! Helpless, spiraling destruction and DEATH!
    All right, glad that’s sone with… but seriously, that’s nuts, dude. Fear/love/abhor/live by the Psets.

  39. The trick is to overcome the need for sleep. Sleep really is optional; it’s just a psychological addiction (or so I keep telling myself).

  40. at least Snively the “good luck Charm” also gets problems. I have looked at the pset and it “seems” attemptable. If Mike Scolfield got out of Sona then why cant I Go through the rough side of MIT?